Blue skies, international football, and an endless supply of those little flies that appear from nowhere… that’s right, summer is here!
With your Sunday league season over for another year, this is the ideal time to relax your body, allow your injuries to heal, and finally clean your football boots.
Yet, as long as summer holidays used to seem when you were a youngster, the new season isn’t as far away as you think. As strength, stamina and anaerobic fitness all decrease due to inactivity, it is in your best interest to maintain some level of fitness throughout the summer to avoid having to start from scratch come the new season.
Here are some tips to help you stay in shape while having an enjoyable summer!
Have a break
First and foremost, do have some time off.
If you are a dedicated amateur footballer who trains as hard as we outline in our complete football training guide, then your body will appreciate a week or so of rest. Find a paddling pool, grab a cold drink, and enjoy the feeling of doing absolutely nothing in the sun.
If doing nothing is too daunting for you, then stay mobile by doing some light activity such as walking or swimming. But some proper rest will allow your muscles, joints, ligaments and nervous system some time to recover after a tough season.
Being able to let go for a week will give you a much-needed mental break too. You will return to football training feeling enthusiastic to start again, as opposed to feeling any lingering fatigue.
Don’t get too used to doing nothing. While a week off is great recuperation for the body, mind and soul, the adage ‘use it or lose it’ comes into play.
Factor in some time throughout the week to work on your physical fitness. Ideally, chat to a personal trainer who can develop the ideal plan for you – although it is simple enough to figure out your own training plan, incorporating the areas you want to work on.
For example, a three-day-a-week conditioning session lasting around 30 minutes will suffice for most players during the off-season. Include some sprints, bodyweight/weighted work, and even some longer runs throughout the summer, just to keep yourself ticking over.
Don’t forget to do a dynamic warmup before each session, then cool down properly before you finish.
Play in the park
After a short rest, you should be gagging for a game. This is good, because a few kickarounds with friends down the park will keep your technical ability sharp over the summer.
This could be a five-a-side match or just some shooting practice with someone who owns a pair of keeper gloves, but as long as you have the ball at your feet, all is good.
Just avoid playing in unregulated games or with people you aren’t familiar with, as you could suffer injuries from overenthusiastic tackles. A broken ankle is no way to start the new season…
Go easy at the BBQs
With a lighter exercise routine and less demand for you to be in tip-top condition, you may find it harder to say no to that sixth sausage at the BBQ. Time to practice some self-control.
As you are likely to be less active during the summer, your body will require fewer calories day-to-day. Determine how many calories you need every day – just search for a free TDEE calculator online, then aim to stick to that number to maintain your weight.
Make sure these are quality calories. Enjoy plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes, and go easy on the sweet stuff and alcohol.
Don’t forget to eat plenty of protein to retain lean muscle mass (especially after training). This can be in the form of meat, dairy, beans, plant-based meats, tofu or other food sources, or by using a quality protein shake, such as our Whey90® or Vegan Protein.
Sure, the UK weather system has its moments, but summer generally tends to be hot, dry and sunny, which means sweat – even when you are just sitting still.
You should therefore prioritize hydration, even on the days when you are doing nothing strenuous. Don’t overlook the benefits of being well-hydrated – or the dangers of being dehydrated.
Ideally, you should aim to drink at least two litres of water throughout the day. Aim to reach this no matter what. Have a glass by the sink at all times. Keep a water bottle filled, chilled and ready to go.
If you are training or playing football in the heat, the focus on hydration becomes even more crucial. In these circumstances, water alone may not do the job and electrolytes will need to be added.
As we explain in our guide to electrolytes for footballers, these minerals play a vital role in hydrating your body. We lose electrolytes through sweat, so replenishing them is essential.
This can be done with certain electrolyte-rich foods, although is usually easier to do with a supplement. For example, adding a Hydrate90® tablet to a bottle of water will create a refreshing drink that delivers four essential electrolytes and three energy-promoting vitamins (B1, B2 and B6), with none of the sugar or carbs found in some sports drinks.
This allows you to add separate carbohydrates to your nutrition plan (such as Fuel90®) should you want that extra energy boost before a training session.
Enjoy your summer!
Unless you are expecting a last-minute call up from Gareth Southgate, it’s time to relax and enjoy your summer.
By following these tips, you will be ready to start your next season of football in better shape than others, giving you edge come opening day.
Have a great summer!
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Updated May 2022